Quiet Time: Why Stepping Back is Actually a Step Forward

Little Winnowers, we are sorting. The process of emotional sorting is complex, constant, consuming. It’s a state that you enter when you begin to look at your life critically. Like cleaning out your emotional closet, you pick up each thing and ask: Do I keep this? Or do I let it go?

This is our process of winnowing – sorting and sift through the millions of pieces of data we perceive each day. Our sensory system is amazing – cataloguing them and filing them in our memory. Through this endless data collection, our brains begin to develop complex beliefs and patterns that shape our worldviews. 

Particularly speaking to my introverts here – the absolute last thing you need in the process of emotional revival is more data, more noise. It’s really challenging, maybe impossible, to sort through your emotional catalogue while being constantly bombarded by background Netflix noise, by contagious pop music, by conversations with other people.

Consistently, I am able to emotionally process best when I am alone, in a quiet space, with no music – or ambient melodies at most. I need soft lighting and cozy clothes and a distance from my phone. I need incense, a clear desk, and most of all – stillness.

In the process of winnowing, as tempting as it is for the go-getters to make list after list of things we need to change and work through and get rid of while also going on your runs and cleaning your room and balancing work and play and self-care and social time and exercise and sleep, (…deep breath…) what you really need, is a quiet space to sort through it all.

How would you like it if while you were trying to solve a calculus problem, your classmates began shouting out other numbers and equations at you? Or if while you were trying to turn your raw vegetables into a soup, fellow eaters began talking to you about different recipes and ingredients? It would be confusing – and really hard to focus!

In a culture that celebrates external achievement and exhaustion, we are so quick to push our emotional selves aside in favor of “doing.” Cultivating emotional strength is counterintuitive; we often need to step back into the quiet in order to change and develop.

You know why so many people don’t do that? Because quiet is scary. More than ever, we are an overstimulated people, constantly in tune with our screens and our smart technology. Have you ever heard someone say they feel naked without their phone? I have, and I’ve said it before, too. Our ready access to technology can be a big origin of the problem.

Why do we feel naked if you don’t have our phones? Are we really that worried about an emergency? Or are we afraid of losing connection with friends? Or do we feel awkward if we have a few minutes of free time in which we don’t know how to occupy ourselves?

Lack of stimulation is scary, because it is foreign territory. However, the silence is where we begin to learn – both about ourselves and about the world we live in. We want our lives to be rich and full and meaningful, don’t we? Then we’re going to need to learn about our inner workings, about why we think the way we think and about why we do the things we do. 

And that, Little Winnowers, takes quiet time.

All my love, all the time,


Published by

Laura McNabb

nurse. writer. poet. (414) born & raised.

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